Gather ’17 Speakers Announced

CHICAGO, IL (April 7, 2017) – Speakers for Gather ’17, the Covenant’s Annual Meeting, were announced yesterday. The event will be held in Detroit, June 22-24, at The Renaissance Center.

Al Tizon, the executive minister of Serve Globally, will preach at the opening dinner on Thursday. He has engaged in community development, church leadership, advocacy, and urban ministry in the United States and the Philippines. He also has authored several books on mission.

Marisol Martínez Velázquez, president of the Evangelical Mission Covenant Church of Mexico, will speak at the morning worship service both Friday and Saturday. She was the first short-term missionary sent by the denomination to Spain, where she served for three years. After returning to Mexico, Marísol served on the ministry team of the Family Development Foundation in Monterrey. The foundation offers parenting, marriage enrichment, and conflict resolution courses. It also provides a unique holistic ministry for families of people with Down syndrome. Before she was elected president of the denomination in 2014, she was the chief financial officer of a ministry that serves women who are escaping human trafficking situations.

Friday afternoon CovTalks will include:

  • Cindy Wu, who is a freelance writer based in Houston, Texas, where she homeschools her three children. She is co-author of Our Global Families: Christians Embracing Common Identity in a Changing Worldand author of the forthcoming workbook A Better Country: Embracing the Refugees in Our Midst. She serves on the Executive Board of the Evangelical Covenant Church and attends Access Evangelical Covenant Church in Katy, Texas.
  • Donna Erickson, who writes a weekly nationally syndicated newspaper column for King Features and appears on radio and TV programs. Erickson has authored nine award-winning books, is the executive producer and host of the family lifestyle series Donna’s Day, which is broadcast on PBS, Hallmark Channel, and distributed internationally. She is a member of Salem Covenant Church in New Brighton, Minnesota, and serves on the Executive Board of the Evangelical Covenant Church.
  • John Kerl, who serves with his wife, Letha, as co-regional coordinators for Europe with Serve Globally. Prior to moving to France, the couple served as missionaries in Mexico from 1988 until 2007, and as short-term missionaries in Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of the Congo, from 1981 through 1983. John has worked with Youth With A Mission in the United States and the Netherlands.
  • James Soul Kwek, who grew up in Akobo, Sudan. In 1983 he became the first person in his family to become a Christian. After receiving theological education in Ethiopia, he moved to Canada. He is the lead pastor of South Sudanese Covenant Church of Canada, secretary of South Sudanese Evangelical Covenant Church Council in North America, and coordinator of the South Sudanese Evangelical Covenant Church Council in Chicago, Illinois.

Jack Sara, president of Bethlehem Bible College, will preach on Friday evening. Sara was born and raised in the Old
City of Jerusalem. A Palestinian Christian, he attended Bethlehem Bible College. He holds a doctoral degree from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in missions and cross-cultural studies and is an ordained minister with the Evangelical Alliance Church in the Holy Land where he oversees the leadership of the churches. He has also worked extensively in the areas of peace and reconciliation.

Josef Rasheed, the regional coordinator for Africa with Serve Globally, will preach at the Saturday night ordination service. In 2005, he and his wife, Rochelle, planted CrossRoads Covenant Church in DeSoto, Texas, where he continues to serve as pastor. He has served as a member of the worship team for nine Midwinter Conferences and eight Covenant Annual Meetings.

Tammy Swanson-Draheim, superintendent of the ECC Midwest Conference, will serve as the moderator of the Annual Meeting. She previously served in a variety of ministry roles, including as senior pastor of First Covenant Church in Mason City, Iowa.

Registration is now open for both Gather ’17 and Impact Detroit, a pre-Gather mission opportunity designed around the five mission priorities of the ECC that will take place June 20-22. The Detroit area churches will offer a combination of hands-on experiences and workshops for participants.

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Stan Friedman

Stan Friedman is the news and online editor for the Covenant Companion and is grateful for the opportunity to serve in a job that combines his newspaper and pastoral ministry experience. He has been to 15 Bruce Springsteen concerts in four cities and listened to “Thunder Road” an average of at least once a day for 41 years.

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